leave here a stranger

“Know who we are? We never go far. Like all my friends who play guitar.”

Leave Here A Stranger.

There are bands you forget, bands you like, and bands you will always remember. This group is the latter. Haunting vocals, Gene Eugene’s guidance, and a reverb soaked Jazzmaster makes for a sound that you couldn’t hear anywhere else circa 2000. It’s a sound most indie bands steal from today. It’s Starflyer 59.

You don’t need a large band to do something worth listening to. You don’t even need a record mixed in stereo. But, having Jason Martin could be helpful. Jason Martin is a genius and one of my Christian music heroes. Starflyer 59 was a band that showed me that Christians can do something no one else has done – that Christians can create something different. Because we’re different.

That we don’t have to steal from the world to be cool, because we were created to set the standard. Not a different standard, just a better one.

Most of my bands were all trios – guitar, bass, drums.  These trios taught me a lot about guitar playing – how to be an honest player. I played shows with larger bands. Bands with two electric guitars, bands with three electric guitars, multiple vocalists, etc… But Starflyer always gave me hope. I didn’t have to have a wall of sound to do something. I could just play and make music with my friends – and if I did that, people would come. And they did.

When I was in middle school, I drove with some friends up to a church in West Palm Beach to see two bands – Denison Marrs (more on them later) and Starflyer 59. I believe Jason was sick that day, so they did a shorter set – and if my memory serves me well (we’re talking 15 years ago) – they switched instruments for some of the songs too.

I don’t think my guitar playing has ever been the same since hearing him play live. His tone has been something that has haunted my life ever since – a fender amp, fender jazzmaster, and a reverb pedal.

Something else happened that day. It was my first live introduction to shoegaze and emo music. I had already been influenced by The Get Up Kids, Denison Marrs, The Promise Ring, My Bloody Valentine, Texas Is The Reason, etc…, but this was the first time seeing it person. Something clicked. The simple guitar playing, the still crowd, the normal looking musicians – not being embarrassed to like and write sad music.  I remember riding home in the FBC Pompano church van thinking, “This is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Don’t underestimate how easily influenced young people are. You never know the events and sounds that could change the course of their lives.

Buy this record.

____________________

I read what they write
God’s men of before
It’s simply that I am still afraid
To give up the war
I’ve played all the chords
And I guess I get bored
I want to do it right
Be someone like Paul
It’s simply that he was not afraid
He never gave up the war

And live when you’re down
And live when you’re always leaving
I want to be things
Always living
Pressing on

I know what they saw
And I know there’s the law
It’s simply that I am still afraid
I want to give up the war
I’ve played all the chords
It doesn’t matter at all

And live when you’re down
And live when you’re always leaving
I want to be things
Always living
Pressing on

“Give Up The War”

Band: Starflyer 59
Album: Leave Here A Stranger

don’t say, “I quit”

“…my life: a constant work in progress and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

It wasn’t that long ago. I took my brother on a drive to Rays Downtown Blues on Clematis Street. We jumped in our Ford Mustang and took the 45 minute excursion – all to see a small punk band. I’ll never forget standing in a packed dive bar with 200 of my friends, just waiting for this band to kick of their set. It wasn’t that I was looking forward to seeing them play my favorite songs. It wasn’t due to the fact that I just came back from playing a small tour alongside them throughout the Southeast.

It was my brother.

Corporal Edward Purchase had just come back from a tour in Afghanistan. We spent that summer trying to make up for the lost time. Eating at our favorite restaurants, catching up on missed movies, and watching some bands make music.  I had just taken him to see Taking Back Sunday – one of our favorite bands (expect later post on them), and I wanted to follow it up by taking him to see a band he grew to love while he was in Afghanistan. A band he listened to before heading out to patrol the IED filled deserts of a foreign country. A band who’s use of catchy melodies and power chords embodied the kind of music that got me through my teenage years.  A band called Set Your Goals.

There are a few things I will always remember from that night.

1) Introducing my brother to all the people I’ve met over the last 6 years –  in the midst of packed bars and overcrowded shows. My two worlds were starting to merge.

2) Taking a walk with my brother to get Publix subs in between bands.

3) And climbing on the shoulders of my friends at the start of their set – just to grab the singer’s mic and scream those words.

I was unaware of the turn my life was about to take in the coming months. I had no clue what the  years would bring.

This blog is for stories like this. Memories and stories told  with artists, music, and albums. Art.

Goonies never say die.

Band: Set Your Goals
Album: Reset (2003) | Mutiny (2006)